Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventures of Superman #593

Adventures of Superman #593

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 13, 2001

Cover date: August 2001

2001 Shield No. 31

Writer: Joe Casey
Penciller: Mike Wieringo
Inker: Jose Marzan Jr.

"Suicide Mission"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Lois Lane grills the Warden of Stryker's Island for information regarding a recent jail break. The Warden's answer leaves much to be desired, so Lois makes for the records room, on the Warden's advise, to find a P.R. liason. Instead, she finds a gullible file boy who succumbs to her wily charms and allows her to view confidential documents. She sees a transfer, signed by Sam Lane, in a file.

Superman streaks to Area 8, long abandoned, to respond to a transmitter left there by some unknown entity. As he's examining the device, shards of metal fly from nowhere and pelt Superman. He turns to see Shrapnel, a villain with the control of metal shards and a metal body. Superman makes short work of him, tossing him into a wall and blasting him with heat vision.

A shadow tosses a cigarette at Shrapnel, telling him to get up and fight harder. The shadow has a British lingo.

A cloud of green mist envelopes Superman, making him cough. Shrapnel intimates that it is germ warfare, and sucker punches Superman.

Back in Metropolis, Lois grills Sam Lane with regards to the transfer. Sam berates Lois for not understanding the threat that's ahead, and leaves, angry.

Shrapnel throws, well, shrapnel at Superman, knocking him through the mist and into the wall. Pink talons emerge from the wall and grab Superman as he's getting up. It's Plasmus, a blob-like entity with a German accent and a mad-on for our hero. He charges his hands, presumably with plasma, and attacks, at the same time as Shrapnel. Superman easily avoids the attack, and starts asking who's behind all of this. They give no answers, so he pushes the two of them together, and freezes them with his super-breath.

Manchester Black comes out of the shadows, the mysterious force behind the three villains. He indicates that this is the Suicide Squad, an American government sanctioned group designed to combat menaces to America. That said, he pulls out his trump card, a gigantic, green fluid-filled being called Chemo.

It stomps on Superman, trapping him inside its lower left leg. Superman breaks through Chemo's shoulder, drag's Chemo to space, and leaves him there.

Black tells Superman it would have been better to freeze Chemo. Superman says he doesn't have time to show off, and asks who sent Black. Black says he works for the same group as Superman, the American government. Superman indicates that he doesn't work for the American government.

Black reassures Superman, telling him that he has regulating nano-bots in his spine that will paralyze him if he gets out of line. Superman flies off. Black calls in a clean-up crew and indicates that all is clear for Mongul retrieval...

Superman shows up in a highly secure government base and confronts Waller, a general, and Luthor, telling them all that he's got his eye on them.

In Metropolis, Lois pesters her father, who tells her to take care of herself, and then drives off.

2Story - 2: Eh. Lame villains. Not much plot development. And a pitiful, absolutely pitiful "rematch" between Manchester and Superman. I mean, good God, I understand that it's hard to top Action Comics #775 with Manchester and Supes, toe to toe, but really? Chemo? Shrapnel? Plasmus? Give me a break. Leave these wimps for the SCU and take Black to the mat. Several plot problems here, as well. First off, directly ordering someone to attack another innocent human being (as Lane and Luthor conspire to do with Superman) is an almost impeachable crime. Just because you're the President doesn't mean you can have people attacked or axed, even if chances are very, very good they'll survive. I understand the Suicide Squad's necessity in the upcoming storyline, but there were so many ways this could have been done, avoiding that crime I mentioned. Black recruited these guys, non-government sanctioned, so that he could sit and watch Superman, observe his weaknesses, without committing himself to paralysis. That would have worked. Or perhaps he could have attacked Supes off-orders, been paralyzed, then taken away and reinstated with the slap on the wrist Luthor would undoubtedly give him. Further: I didn't know that top-secret government documents that only the Secretary of Defense and the President were allowed to read could be procured by turning on one inept guard of a hormone driven kid. I'll have to take some estrogen and find out what's really going on down in Area 51. Hmmmmm. Good prelude, in a sense, to the larger story, but why not make it more BIFF, BANG, SOCK! if it's gotta be, huh? Let's see bigger, cooler battles with characters that are really a threat. I mean, Shrapnel could just as easily have been Metallo, Plasmus... Clayface, and Chemo... Validus. It would have been a better fight, and you could have drawn in Batman readers with a more compelling, Clayface-and-Metallo attacking Superman over a looming Validus cover. But who knows, I haven't read Batman in a while. Maybe Clayface is dead or in jail. But still, my point is that things could have been very spiced up, instead of a whole sock-em-up issue devoted around a Sam Lane/Lois confrontation and Manchester Black teasing Superman.

4Art - 4: This wasn't so bad at all. Case in point, when Superman is launched into a building by Shrapnel, we see his flight and decent through shadow, which is nice. And Manchester Black has a very distinct feel to his motions, his character, and his appearance. I like. I also like the way that Sam Lane carries an air of dignity, and strength. He seemed whipped up until about a year ago. Problems: Sam Lane and the general look too much alike. It seems, to my eye, that Sam Lane made sense to be in the Luthor scene, but was also in the Lois scene, so a look-alike was presented, but I could be full of it. Also, Lois looks a bit short and stocky. I wish Lois would stay one body shape from one issue to the next. And keep the same hair. Eh.

1Cover Art - 1: I like the Our Worlds At War tie-in stuff, don't get me wrong. This cover just smacks of "Superman is gonna fight some lame-o's in this one". Seriously. Shrapnel here looks like he's blowing himself up on accident, Plasmus looks like his skin's got the runs, and Chemo, well. Chemo's just sitting there. BOOOOORING.

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.

January 2001

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